Daily Archives: November 5, 2008

Dear GOP: Please Do Make Sure That Your Next Vice-Presidential Candidate Can Pass a Fifth-Grade Geography Test

Apparently Sarah Palin didn’t know Africa was a continent.

Just… just… oh, hell. I can’t even pretend that I’m surprised.

You know, after I watched this, I walked into the other room, where my nine-year-old daughter was watching television.

“Athena, what is Africa?” I asked.

“It’s a continent,” she said, and then look at me like why is my dad asking me such idiot questions?

“Congratulations, honey,” I said. “You know more about Africa than the vice-presidential candidate of a major political party.”

Athena, to her credit, refused to believe what I had just told her. She thought I was kidding. I didn’t have the heart to correct her.

The idea that this appalling ignoramus was potentially a 72-year-old cancer survivor’s heartbeat away from being President makes me want to punch something. It’s really not too much ask that the Vice-President of the United States knows the fucking continents. There’s only seven of them. It’s not hard.

I bet I could spend days thinking of all the things Sarah Palin doesn’t know. But on that path lies madness.

Alaska, she’s your problem now.

Update, 9:49am, 11/6: Palin comments on the accusation:

If they’re an unnamed source, then that says it all. I won’t comment on anybody’s gossip, or allegations that are based on anonymous sources. That’s kind of a small, evidently bitter type of person who would anonymously charge something foolish like that, that I perhaps didn’t know an answer to a question.

Yeah, okay, but the question was “What is Africa?” Which, well. She should know already.

Well, Yeah

Just sent to me, the result of the most important election last night:

Man, it wasn’t even close. But how could it be? You can’t defeat bacon. You can’t even hope to try.

(Thanks, Mitchell, for sending that along)

RIP, Michael Crichton

He died last night, of cancer.

I always liked his work, which was eminently readable and always featured interesting ideas, even if he tended to present them in alarmist fashion (because presenting them in alarmist fashion helped to sell books). I met and interviewed him once, during the release of the Jurassic Park movie, and he said to me one of my favorite things to tell people who complain that the movie of their favorite book isn’t as rich or complex, which was that books are 400 pages long while movie scripts are the equivalent of 40 pages long, and you just have to make some choices. That was a very smart and clear answer, and not only have I never forgotten it, I incorporated it into my thinking when watching movie adaptations of books. It’s saved me from being annoyed therein countless times over the years.

So thanks, Michael Chrichton, for that, and also for the fun reads.

Random Thoughtery, 11/5/08

Some various thoughts I’m having about the election. Don’t worry, I’ll move on to other things soon. But, hey, I just had another slice of Schadenfreude Pie and now I’ve got a hell of a sugar buzz going.

* First, could someone call North Carolina for Obama, already? 100% of the vote is in. He won it. Let’s nail this electoral vote thing down.

* If I could pick who the big losers are today, aside from people who actually lost a race, I would pick Joe Lieberman and the Lady de Rothschild. The LdR thing makes me feel especially snarky, but I feel just a little sad for Lieberman, who is now going to have to drag his hangdog ass back into a Senate whose leadership doesn’t actually need him anymore to keep itself in charge, and which will undoubtedly feel it’s time to settle up accounts for him for campaigning against Obama. One makes one’s choices.

* I find it deeply amusing that the same conservative who were perfectly fine with Bush running everything from the hard right are now falling over themselves to suggest that Obama needs to lead from the center, not from the left. While I personally would prefer Obama leading from the center, this sort of hypocritical yamming engages my bitch, please reflex. The one thing that genuinely annoys me about the professional conservative spew class here in the US is not that it’s conservative but that it’s the equivalent of the sports fan who is perfectly fine with a crooked umpire as long as the umpire is crooked toward their side.

* I know people are excited about Virginia turning blue for president, but personally, I was more impressed with Indiana going blue. Maybe it’s a proximity thing.

* I’ve had a couple of people write me and ask me if I had any thoughts about the fact the US elected a black man to the presidency. I do, but aside from saying I’m very proud we did, I can’t speak too much to it — or more accurately, won’t. I was obviously aware of Obama’s race, but it wasn’t close to being a factor for my vote, and I think it would be insincere for me now to push it into the forefront of my personal consideration. But more than that, look, you know what, I’m white, and the Obama victory doesn’t have the visceral weight in my psyche that it has for blacks in this country, and I don’t want to pretend it does. I stand outside that particular victory, and I am content to let others have it, because it is theirs. I have enough victories through Obama at the moment that I don’t have to have them all.

* A note on the Schadenfreude Pie: One of the reasons I love this pie I have invented is that it is perfect for what it’s supposed to be, which is something rich and dark and bitter that you better not have too much of. Last night and this morning, each time I took a slice of it, I took ever-so-slightly more than I should have, and now both times it’s sat in my stomach, threatening reflux. It’s a moral lesson, really: Like this particular pie, too much gloating invites payback. It’s nice to have a physical lesson to go with the existential one.

* Re: Proposition 8 and the other anti-same-sex marriages initiatives on the ballots, which passed in their respective states: I am disappointed, of course. I had hoped voters, particularly in California, would have had better moral sense. But as I mentioned to someone else earlier today, the struggle against bigotry is long and difficult, and the fact of the matter is we’re in the middle of this particular struggle, and it will take years to see it through, as has every struggle against bigotry here in the US. I’m willing to invest the time.

That said, I do wonder if the people who voted for Proposition 8 in particular have thought the implications of what they’ve just done. If, as I expect, the consequence of Proposition 8 is that 18,000 marriages are destroyed, they’ve just handed those who want equal marriage rights under the law an extraordinarily potent symbol, and a concrete goal: namely, the restitution of those marriages. The fight for those marriages starts today.

In the meantime, there are the words of a certain wise man which apply here to those who voted for these propositions, and they are, “Forgive them, Father; for they know not what they do.” Perhaps they will, in time.

Reality Check

For those who need it:

1. It was Obama who won, not necessarily the Democrats. Which is why, while the Democrats gained in both the House and the Senate, they don’t appear to be having the blow-out additions to their numbers some folks seemed to think would happen (note that at least a couple of Senate races are still in play). Which suggests, to me at least, that rather than the Democrats putting wind into Obama’s sails, they rode on his coattails. I think people who are under the impression the Democrats now have a mandate are misreading what happened yesterday. It’s Obama who has the mandate. The Democrats are along for the ride. Don’t think Obama, at least, isn’t aware of this. Which brings us to:

2. The United States did not become a deep blue paradise overnight. Fox News will not implode. Matt Drudge will not spontaneously combust. Rush Limbaugh will not choke on his own tongue. And aside from all those pleasant images, America is the same essentially purple-y place it was yesterday. If you need proof of that, please to see the results of Proposition 8 in California, which, alas, seems headed for a win, along with amendments and resolutions in other states intended to make sure same-sex marriage is illegal in those places. It would be tempting to imagine that this is a departing knife twist by religious and social conservatives before they start to tear at each other’s intestines (“I can’t have Sarah Palin but at least I can screw the gays”), but that’s delusional thinking. There are more pro-Obama, pro-Prop 8 (and etc) types out there than some folks are ready to admit. Which brings us to:

3. Obama will not give you everything you want, when you want it. Since Obama seems to have this crazy idea that he might want to be president of the whole damn country, I think he’s going to be small-c conservative in his battles, at least the early ones, and will likely stick to the economic issues that got him elected. Anyone who’s observed the man in the campaign who is also not totally high on crazy wing juice (either the right or left vintages) will note that Obama is a man of exceptionally practical strategies; one of those strategies is to lead people to where he wants to go by using the paths they like to go by. Per point 2, this means frustrating people who want to go off the beaten paths. Which brings us to:

4. Your next president is going to disappoint you. Barack Obama does not fart cinnamon-scented rainbows. He is not trailed by angels and unicorns. Reality does not reshape itself to his wishes. Dude’s a human being, and a politician, and he’s going to have to work with other human beings who are also politicians. Per point 2, some things you want him to do he won’t be able to do, and some of the things you want him to do he won’t want to do, so they won’t get done. He will make mistakes. He will make errors. He will be caught flat-footed from time to time. He will be challenged by antagonists, foreign and domestic, who will have an interest in seeing him faceplant. He will piss most people off. His approval rating will drop below 50%. He is going to disappoint you. Get used to the idea.

5. Last night’s election didn’t change the country; it offered a chance for the country to change. Which is something Obama himself pointed out last night, because he’s a smart man like that. He will effect some of that change through the power of the presidency, and through his relationship with Congress, but ultimately what will change things is whether people want change and are willing to work for it. Elections are the easy part, basically. Now comes the work. As the saying goes, you have been offered a country, if you can keep it. It’s up to you more than it’s up to your next president.